Aug. 4, 2008 — -- As the appearance of Ronald McDonald in a television commercial more than 50 years ago shows, restaurant chain advertisers have long known the influence kids can exert over their parents when it comes to where they get their meals.
The restaurants are tempting for many kids due to the tasty food and the toys that often come with the kid's meals menu. For parents, the establishments are convenient and inexpensive.
But according to some health advocates, letting kids eat at some fast-food restaurants can be downright dangerous because of the calorie content of the foods they serve.
"A restaurant meal is a mine field," Mike Jacobs of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, told "Good Morning America." "It's junk everywhere and the explosions are going to be in your stomach, your heart."
According to an investigation by the CSPI, in most chain restaurants, more than 90 percent of the kid's menu meals packed way more than the recommended 430 calories per meal.
Two popular kid's meals, Kentucky Fried Chicken's "Laptop" meal and Burger King's "Big Kids" meal, are well over double the recommended calorie count, at 940 and 910 calories respectively, the CSPI investigation found.
Parent Sharleka Ashton was astonished by the numbers.
"I didn't know it was that many calories," she told "Good Morning America." "I think if they would put it on the menu, that would kind of shock people."
But according to Sheila Weiss at the National Restaurant Association, the information is easily accessible "not just on the Web sites, but in the restaurants as well -- on brochures and tray liners and posters."
Burger King said in a statement that the restaurant offers "a number of kid's meals options that allow parents to customize."
Similarly, KFC said the report was "inaccurate," and that "they offer a variety of ... lower calorie options."
Despite these options, Jacob believes that children will still suffer.
"Overweight, then obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes," he said. "That's what's coming down the road."